Children in kindergarten, first and second grades at McMillan Elementary School now have an opportunity to use updated technology. The classes have access to 12 iPads, thanks to a proposal submitted by principal Kerri Criner.
Based on their skill level, the students use the iPads to help them with reading, beginning reading and math skills or prereading activities such as alphabet recognition.
"The iPads are a wonderful resource," Criner said. "We hope their use will be a motivator to the students, and that the technology is just one more tool to prepare them for the world they live in."
The iPads, which are tablet computers with a platform that specializes in audio and visual resources, are particularly suited to use by smaller children. Along with the smaller screen size, which is less than 10 inches, they are lighter weight and there is no mouse to be manipulated.
"The teachers have selected applications to download for the specific needs of the children," Criner said. "The programs include letter and sound recognition, writing and tracing letters, beginning number recognition and adding and subtraction practice."
The students will use the iPads in a variety of ways in the classrooms. Some teachers have set up stations in the classrooms, for a few students at a time to use the iPads. Some students will use the iPads in small groups of five or six in guided reading, with activities geared toward their reading instructional level.
Criner said a popular activity for iPad use is that of students reading a story to the iPad, and then it recording the child reading for playback.
"This is a valuable activity, which allows the children to hear themselves reading aloud," she said.
The kindergarten-grade two teachers will use common grade level assessment data, observation and district assessment data to determine the overall value of adding the technology to the curriculum. "We know one of the advantages of using the iPads will be to reteach skills students may have missed in the classroom lessons," she said.
Thanks in part to a generous gift from the city council of the Village of Vandiver, a cart was purchased which will allow the iPads to be stored safely, to be charged at the same time, and which will allow applications to be downloaded simultaneously.
The wheeled cart allows easy sharing of the technology between the teachers.
Kayla Long, first grade teacher, is enthusiastic about the use of iPads in her classroom.
"My students are excited about using the iPads, particularly in reading to it and then listening to themselves," she said. "This technology is just another way to get students engaged in learning."